Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa along with ministerial colleagues and a group of around 100 Buddhist monks arrived at Kushinagar International Airport to attend the inaugural ceremony of the airport on Wednesday.
India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla received Sri Lanka's Sports Minister and son of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at an event in UP's Kushinagar where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport.
Speaking to ANI, the Sports Minister of Sri Lanka Namal Rajapaksa lauded the gesture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of inviting and making the Sri Lankan airlines to be the first to land at the airport.
"It is a great gesture by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open an international airport at Kushinagar, especially inviting Sri Lankan airlines as the first international carrier to land at the airport. We believe there are numerous travellers who travel to India for Buddhist pilgrimage, and opening an airport at such a holy place for the Buddhists will not only benefit the Buddhists of Sri Lanka but also Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world," Rajapaksa said.
The Ambassador of Bhutan, Maj Gen Vetsop Namgyel told ANI that the inauguration of the airport will make the Buddhist circuit tourism very convenient.
"Wonderful development, as it will give the opportunity to Buddhist countries to come very conveniently to the most sacred place where Lord Buddha entered into Paranirvana. It will make the Buddhist circuit tourism very convenient," he said.
Hoping that the inauguration of the airport would attract a lot of tourists from Thailand, the Ambassador of Thailand, Pattarat Hongtong said that the airport would facilitate and boost their visit to the country.
"We have a lot of Thailand people who come here for pilgrimage. So having the new international airport would facilitate and boost the visit of the Thai people. I am sure we will have a lot of tourists coming in from Thailand. The Thai people like to come to India to complete the Buddhist circuit, so having an international flight would make the trip much easier," she told ANI.
Speaking to ANI, the Ambassador of Vietnam, Pham Sanh Chau expressed his bliss on the inauguration of the airport and said that the biggest amount of visitors coming to India are for the Buddhist pilgrimage.
"The biggest amount of visitors coming from Vietnam to India are the Buddhist and for the Buddhist pilgrimage. So we are very happy to see this airport become an international airport. This would reduce the travel distance very much. I and my family have been here too, and I believe that we have to boost more tourism coming from Vietnam," he said.
Ambassador of Myanmar Moe Kyaw Aung said that the move will attract more tourists from Myanmar as the majority of the population are Buddhists.
"This is a very important Buddhist circuit site. Previously they had to come from Gorakhpur, but now they can come directly to Kushinagar," he said while talking to ANI.
Minister Counsellor of Nepal Ananda Prasad Sharma hoped that the airport will facilitate the Buddhist devotees coming for pilgrimage. (ANI)